Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Tuesday criticized Interior Minister Matteo Salvini’s plans to create a Roma “register.”
“No one is planning to create files or conduct a census on the basis of ethnicity, which would be unconstitutional because it is clearly discriminatory,” Conte said in a statement Tuesday.
Conte also called for checks to ensure Roma children had access to school services, as “they are often kept out of compulsory education courses.”
Salvini, who also serves as deputy prime minister, announced his intentions of carrying out a Roma census during a television question-and-answer session on regional television channel TeleLombardia on Monday.
The far-right League party leader said the census would mean Roma who were in the country illegally could be deported, but “as for the Italian Roma, unfortunately, one has to keep them at home.”
Following criticism from Conte and a number of opposition MPs who labelled the register “racist” and “fascist,” Salvini defended his proposal.
“I’m not giving up and I’m pushing ahead! The Italians and their safety first,” Salvini tweeted.
Salvini attempted to further explain the reasons for the census. “It is not our intention to record or take anyone’s fingerprints,” he said, according to a statement from his far-right League party.
“Our goal is a recognition of the situation of Roma camps. We intend to protect thousands of children who are not allowed to attend school regularly,” the statement continued.
Salvini already caused controversy this month when he refused a charity-operated rescue ship carrying 630 mostly African migrantsto dock in Italy.